Illini Sign 6 Impact Players in Class of 2013
Nov. 14, 2012
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - University of Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb announced the signing of six student-athletes to letters of intent for the signing class of 2013 on Wednesday, the first day of the National Letter of Intent early signing period. At this point, the class is composed of OF/1B Anthony Drago (Lake Zurich, Ill./Lake Zurich HS), OF Alex Greer (Liberty, Mo./Fort Osage HS/Iowa Western CC), RHP/SS Matthew James (Normal, Ill./Normal West HS), RHP/SS Ryne Roper (Harrisburg, Ill./Harrisburg HS), OF Dan Rowbottom (Broadview Heights, Ohio/St. Ignatius HS), and RHP/OF Cody Sedlock (Sherrard, Ill/Alleman HS).
"We are extremely pleased with our 2013 signing class," Hartleb said. "We're excited that we have been able to put a number of outstanding classes back-to-back. (Associate head) coach (Eric) Snider and (assistant) coach (Drew) Dickinson did a great job identifying, evaluating and cultivating relationships to land this impressive group of very athletic players.
"We were able to fill all of our needs with this class, while bringing in quality students and individuals, as well as outstanding baseball players. This entire group showed that they are excited about the opportunity to play at a championship level while at the University of Illinois. This truly is a group that wants to be a part of the Illini baseball family, and their desire and skill level will be a great asset to our program."
Biographical sketches of the 2013 Illinois baseball signees:
Anthony Drago, 1B/OF
Notes: Ranked the No. 16 player in the Class of 2013 in the state of Illinois by Prep Baseball Report ... PBR calls him "the top left-handed power bat in the state" ... Helped Top Tier Americans travel team to 2012 NABF 17U High School World Series championship, earning tournament MVP honors ... Hit .421 with eight home runs for Top Tier in the summer of 2012 ... Hit .461 as a sophomore on the Lake Zurich varsity team in 2011 ... Named to 2012 Pioneer Press All-Lake Shore special mention and 2012 All-North Suburban Conference honorable mention ... Participated in PBR's Midwest Futures Game.
Associate head coach Eric Snider on Drago: "Anthony is a very athletic player with a strong, durable body, who possesses great work habits and drive. I expect him to make an immediate impact because of his great plate presence and power. He projects as a middle-of-the-order type of hitter for us, is highly motivated and brings great energy every day."
Alex Greer, OF
Notes: Led Iowa Western Community College to the 2012 NJCAA Division I World Series title, their second world series title in the last three years ... IWCC is the only Northern District team to ever win a junior college national championship ... Hit .347 with 16 doubles, eight triples, 12 home runs and 69 RBIs for the Reivers in 2012 ... Named a 2012 All-Region first-team selection ... Baseball America listed him as the No. 8 MLB Draft prospect in the state of Iowa prior to the 2012 draft ... Hit .490 with 10 home runs and 40 RBIs in 2011, his senior year at Fort Osage High School ... Named the 2010 Examiner Player of the Year after hitting .478 with 11 doubles, three triples, six home runs, 32 RBIs, 43 runs and 17 stolen bases ... Earned four letters in baseball and three in basketball at Fort Osage.
Coach Snider on Greer: "Alex will make an immediate impact for us in the 2014 season. He is an athletic, strong outfielder who runs a 6.37 60-yard dash and has been clocked at 94 mph on the radar gun from the outfield. He has great power and speed, a plus arm and is a plus defender. Alex really has game-changing tools. He can beat you at the plate and on the bases, and he can go get a ball in the outfield and throw you out at the plate."
Matthew James, RHP/SS
Notes: Ranked the No. 26 player in the Class of 2013 in the state of Illinois by both Perfect Game USA and Prep Baseball Report ... Led Normal West to a regional championship in 2012 ... Named a 2012 Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American ... Was the only sophomore named to the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association's Class 4A All-State team in 2011 ... Named the Big 12 Conference and CornBeltBaseball.com Pitcher of the Year in 2011 ... Went 9-1 with a 0.62 ERA, 107 strikeouts, eight walks in 67 innings, with six shutouts in 2011 ... Threw a perfect game in 2011, striking out 14 of the 15 batters he faced ... His 0.62 ERA in 2011 was a school record ... Hit a team-best .437 with nine doubles, four triples, two home runs, 29 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 2011 ... Two-time All-Big 12 Conference selection (2011, 2012) ... Broke the school record for triples in a season with seven in 2012 while hitting .356 with eight doubles and 29 RBIs ... Went 7-1 on the mound in 2012 with a 1.48 ERA in 42 2/3 innings, striking out 58 while walking only 13 and allowing just 27 hits ... Named a Big 12 Conference Scholar-Athlete in 2011 and 2012 ... Father, Brad, played baseball at Illinois State from 1987-91 and in the Atlanta Braves' organization from 1991-92 ... Uncle, William Murray, played for the Detroit Lions.
Coach Snider on James: "Matthew is very athletic with room to grow into his frame. He has plus infield actions, great arm strength and a solid left-handed approach at the plate with some pop. He has exceptional make-up and work habits, and has great presence both on the mound and in the batter's box. As a pitcher, he has a solid three-pitch mix, knows how to pitch and is a winner. He will make an impact as a freshman and has a very high ceiling as he matures physically."
Ryne Roper, RHP/SS
Notes: Ranked the No. 2 player in the state of Illinois and the No. 15 player in the Midwest in the Class of 2013 by Prep Baseball Report ... Perfect Game USA ranks him the No. 13 player and the No. 2 shortstop in the state of Illinois in the Class of 2013 ... Perfect Game USA lists him as the No. 61 shortstop and among the top 500 players in the nation in the Class of 2013 ... Named a Perfect Game USA Third-Team Preseason Underclass All-American prior to the 2012 season ... Three-time All-Southern Illinois selection by the Southern Illinois Baseball Coaches Association ... Three-time All-Southern Illinois River-to-River Conference selection ... Hit 11 home runs in 2012 ... Helped Top Tier 17U Americans to a top-16 finish at the Perfect Game World Wood Bat National Championship in 2012 ... Led Harrisburg to an IHSA Class 2A state runner-up finish as a freshman in 2010, hitting .397 with six home runs, 17 doubles and 35 RBIs, while going 10-1 on the mound ...Led Harrisburg to SIRR conference championships in 2010 and 2011 ... Led the Bulldogs to regional championships three straight seasons, 2010-12 ... Member of Team Illinois in 2012 ... Currently quarterbacking Harrisburg's football team, which is in the IHSA Class 4A semifinals this weekend ... Brother of current Illini infielder/pitcher Reid Roper ... Father, Jeff, played baseball at Southeastern Illinois College in 1984 ... Great-uncle, Larry "Moose" Calufetti, played baseball at Southern Illinois from 1970-73 for former SIU and Illinois head coach Richard "Itch" Jones and played professionally in the New York Mets' organization from 1973-76.
Coach Snider on Roper: "Ryne is a multiple-sport athlete who we think will really flourish as a baseball player when he's able to focus on one sport. He has great presence and will be another immediate-impact freshman. He's an athletic, competitive player with tremendous upside who understands the game and is a proven winner. He's the quarterback of his football team and is very projectable on the baseball field both as a pitcher and infielder. He has great make-up and work habits, a solid plate approach with power and a plus arm with great infield actions. On the mound, he's a winner with a solid three-pitch mix."
Dan Rowbottom, OF
Notes: Ranked the No. 10 player and No. 2 outfielder in the state of Ohio in the Class of 2013 by Perfect Game USA ... Perfect Game USA ranks him among the top 500 players in the nation in the Class of 2013 ... Named a Perfect Game USA Preseason Underclass High Honorable Mention selection prior to his 2012 season ... Named to the top prospect list at Perfect Game's 2011 National Underclass Showcase Main Event ... Named to the Cleveland Sun News All-Area first team in 2012 ... Hit .313 with nine doubles, three triples and one home run in 2012 while using wood bats ... Was one of only three players at St. Ignatius to hit over .300 and was the only player on his team to hit a home run in 2012 ... Was a 13U and 14U USSSA All-American, and helped his Beaver Valley (Pa.) Red team to a USSSA Disney Elite 32 fifth-place finish at both the 13U and 14U levels ... Helped the Midwest Pelicans to a 2011 CABA World Series runner-up finish and was selected to the CABA All-Tournament team ... Played in the Little League World Series ... Father, Jim, wrestled at Case Western Reserve.
Coach Snider on Rowbottom: "Dan is a very athletic player with exceptional make-up and presence at the plate. I expect him to make an impact immediately. He understands the game and has great toughness. He has good range in the outfield and a plus arm, and brings a solid approach at the plate with power to the opposite field."
Cody Sedlock, RHP/OF
Notes: Ranked the No. 9 player and the No. 5 pitcher in the Class of 2013 in Illinois by Perfect Game USA ... Perfect Game USA ranks him among the top 400 players in the nation in the Class of 2013 ... Ranked the No. 13 player and the No. 4 pitcher in the state of Illinois in the Class of 2013 by Prep Baseball Report ... Named to the top prospect list at Perfect Game's 2012 Midwest Top Prospect Showcase ... Named to the 2012 Illinois High School Coaches Association Class 2A All-State team ... Led Alleman to a 2012 IHSA Class 2A state championship runner-up finish ... Posted a 10-3 record in 2012 with a 2.91 ERA and 108 strikeouts in 81 2/3 innings ... Hit .377 with 13 doubles and 33 RBIs in 2012 ... Named a 2012 All-Western Big Six selection ... Led Rock Island American Legion team to the 2011 Illinois state championship.
Assistant coach Drew Dickinson on Sedlock: "Cody is a strong, athletic player who is a multiple-sport athlete. He is very athletic and possesses a solid three-pitch mix with a very high ceiling. He knows how to pitch, is a great competitor and is a proven winner. At the plate, he has a good swing and a solid approach with power. We expect him to make an immediate impact in 2014."